Blog #3: “Outsourcing IT Security: Benefits and risks”

Today there is no doubt that IT systems are a part of operations in any organization. With all components of an organization, security is an important factor whether it is physical or software. While for many organizations outsourcing security has become a part of operations; physically we hire security guards, financially we take insurance companies, when it comes to IT. However, it is a whole different story because of the strong factor which is sensitivity of information.

An advantage of outsourcing IT Security is that in the long run, if done properly it could reduce cost, as it is an expensive undertaking to have an in house team to work on IT security year round on a daily basis.  This being said, establishing an agreement with a company that specializes in IT Security would mean that you have another party to respond to technical issues on an “on call basis” and to absorb some liability for loss of information. In my own case where we outsource all our IT-related maintenance due to unavailability of our own IT specialist, this issue on outsourcing is very significant. Hiring an expatriate would cost our company around 50,000php monthly plus food allowance and housing which obviously is very costly compared to outsourcing a specific IT related issue on an on-call basis which costs around 3,000php. Not only this, we can as well focus on our company’s more significant functions without being bothered on IT security maintenance. All you have to do is just shell out some amount and the job is done.

Yes, we can save in outsourcing; however, outsourcing IT security doesn’t come without significant risks. Because IT systems operate at core level of an organization, issues on security of sensitive information as well as confidentiality are at risk. Why? Because these people working on the security system have all the access on the most sensitive and important files on our system. We can never be assured with the protection of this important information that should never be disclosed to others aside from the company’s top management. Since all IT related works are outsourced, these important data may leak or can be used against us. Financial statements as well as payroll processing containing all bank accounts are accessed by random people. These are only few of the issued with turning over your security works with outside organizations.

Often times the risk outweighs the benefits of outsourcing IT security, and therefore it isn’t ideally the best decision of an organization to outsource. On the other hand, as mentioned some organizations simply cannot afford to maintain such IT teams and would have one or two persons with limited knowledge to manage their systems.

I think that what could be done in such cases is by virtue of “no choice” an organization would have to outsource IT security. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the organization is on the losing end. As I’ve mentioned every organization have managers like HR managers for example who can work side by side with such outsources to be a control measure as to how far an outsource unit can go and what information could be affected.

If really left with no other options an organization can always look to outsource, but they will have to adopt and establish with their outsources proper policies, systems and procedures. That can give them the best security for their money and yet allow them to keep full operational control of their IT systems.

 

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